Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner sets out recommendations

25 Nov 2008

Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner on Human Rights, published a "viewpoint" recognizing that more than 80 million persons are still neglected in Europe simply because of their disabilities. In addition to the UN convention on the rights of disabled persons and the Council of Europe disability action plan 2006-2015, more inclusive policies must be implemented, stamping out social stigma and all kinds of barriers.

Commissioner Hammarberg also analyses the different obstacles which prevent persons with disabilities from fully enjoying a good quality of life in Europe and sets out a number of recommendations to help member States address more effectively the most urgent needs of persons with disabilities and foster a cultural change in society :

  • Ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol and start implementing it. Use the European Action Plan as a tool to make the standards a reality.
  • Develop action plans to remove physical, legal, social and other barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from participating in society. Consult with and include persons with disabilities and their organisations in the planning and monitoring of laws and policies which affect them.
  • Adopt non-discrimination legislation covering all relevant areas of society.
  • Set up independent Ombudsmen or other equality bodies to monitor that persons with disabilities can fully exercise their rights.
  • Develop programmes to enable persons with disabilities to live in the community.
  • Cease new admissions to social care institutions and allocate sufficient resources to provide adequate health care, rehabilitation and social services in the community instead.
  • Review the laws and procedures for involuntary hospitalisation to secure that both law and practice comply with international human rights standards.
  • Set up independent mechanisms equipped to make regular, unannounced and effective visits to social care homes and psychiatric hospitals in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture.
  • Tackle hate crime against persons with disabilities through proactive policing and prompt prosecutions.

Read full article on the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner's website.